Under the current social distancing measures it would be "difficult to permit" partners to accompany pregnant women to routine outpatient appointments, the HSE’s Clinical Director of Women and Infants Health has said.
Outpatient facilities can "barely cope" with admitting pregnant women themselves with current social distancing measures and could not cope with partners too, Dr Peter McKenna, told RTÉ radio’s
However, some restrictions are to be lifted he said, with new HSE guidelines to allow for partners to attend 12-week scans and to be present during emergency caesarean sections.
Partners will also be permitted to attend early scans if miscarriages are suspected.
Regarding C-section's performed under general anaesthetic, Dr McKenna said "having an additional person there is a distraction and is not a support for the woman" as the woman is asleep during the procedure.
Dr McKenna said stricter restrictions may remain in some hospitals where there have been an outbreak of Covid-19.
The current variant of the virus "is more aggressive when it comes to dealing with pregnant women," Dr McKenna said.
"A few weeks ago, when we had numbers in intensive care in their teens, a disproportionate number of these were pregnant women," he said.
Regarding the rising levels of cases of pregnant women in ICU with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland he said pregnant women have comprised a “disproportionate” number of the people in ICU in the Republic as well.
Dr McKenna added that restrictions on visitors - not partners - will remain at all maternity units "in an attempt to keep the footfall as small as possible."
Dr McKenna also gave an updated figure on Covid-19 and problematic pregnancies (placentitis).
There have been six stillbirths, one late miscarriage and four or more ‘near’ miscarriages which he explained meant where early intervention or delivery was required to save the baby’s life.